Press Council appoints Neville Stevens as new chair

The Australian Press Council has appointed Neville Stevens as its new chair, more than six months after David Weisbrot resigned from the role.

Weisbrot stepped down in June due to “persistent personal attacks” and “misinformations” following the appointment of GetUp’s deputy chairwoman, Carla McGrath, to the council.

Weisbrot stepped down in June

McGrath’s appointment received backlash from the wider publishing community with The Australian announcing it would boycott any APC decisions made by, or involving, McGrath.

Newly appointed Stevens joins with Press Council with experience in chairing panels and reviews in both the private and public sector.

He retired as secretary of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts in 2001, and since then has worked as chair for the NSW government’s council for innovation and productivity, chairman of NICTA (Australia’s information of communication technology research centre of experience), the Communications Alliance and the Broadband management committee.

Stevens also led a review into indigenous broadcasting for the Federal government.

John Pender, Press Council’s executive director said Stevens had “exceptional experience” in both the regulatory and self-regulatory spheres, and serving the Australian community.

“He will bring a fresh perspective to the important work of the Press Council at a time when print and electronic media are undergoing profound change,” Pender said.

Stevens will commence his new role in January

John Doyle, one of the Press Council’s vice-chairs, said Stevens was well-placed to lead the organisation.

“The work of the Press Council includes setting standards, handling complaints and advocating for freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” Doyle said.

“I am confident that Neville Stevens will build on what previous Chairs have accomplished and that the Press Council will continue to achieve its goals effectively.”

Julie Kinross, vice-chair added: “Neville’s past experience with innovation, convergence and media regulation will enable him to lead the Australian Press Council at a time the industry is undergoing digital transformation and facing the challenges that poses. We welcome Neville’s appointment.”

Stevens said the Press Council should be a strong advocate for responsible press and freedom of speech.

“The media sector is undergoing rapid change as digital technology disrupts traditional business models. The need for a robust and responsible media sector has never been greater. I believe that the Press Council should be a strong advocate for a free and responsible press and freedom of speech,” Stevens said.

“My predecessor, Professor David Weisbrot worked hard to make the Press Council an effective voice in this area and to ensure relevant standards and effective handling of complaints,” he said.

Stevens will join the Press Council as chair from January 22.


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